John C. Bogle had championed the interests of the small investor and railed against corporate greed. Here are some of his investment tips.
John C. Bogle, who died on Wednesday, is widely seen as having changed how ordinary people invest their money. His firm, the Vanguard Group, which grew to have $4.9 trillion under management, was built on a belief that, over the long term, most investment managers cannot outperform the broad stock market averages.
“Jack Bogle made an impact on not only the entire investment industry, but more importantly, on the lives of countless individuals saving for their futures or their children’s futures,” Tim Buckley, Vanguard’s chief executive, said in a statement.
Here are some of Bogle’s investment tips:
1. Stay the course
“Wise investors won’t try to outsmart the market,” he said. “They’ll buy index funds for the long term, and they’ll diversify.”
Long-term investors must hold stocks even though the market is risky, because they are still likely to produce better returns than the alternatives, Bogle said in 2012.
Investors should weather any storms, he told The Wall Street Journal in 2016. “If we’re going to have lower returns, well, the worst thing you can do is reach for more yield. You just have to save more.”
2. Beware the experts
Money managers missed all the warning signs before the 2008 financial crisis, Bogle noted: “How could so many highly skilled, highly paid securities analysts and researchers have failed to question the toxic-filled, leveraged balance sheets of Citigroup and other leading banks and investment banks?”
In 2017, he waved younger investors away from financial advisers and gave his approval to robo-advisers. “Unless you need a financial adviser to help you get started in that routine, you probably don’t need a financial adviser at all,” he told CNBC.
3. Keep costs down
Vanguard’s fund shareholders own it collectively, so there is no parent company or private owner to siphon profit, allowing the firm to keep costs down.
“In investing, you get what you don’t pay for. Costs matter. So intelligent investors will use low-cost index funds to build a diversified portfolio of stocks and bonds, and they will stay the course. And they won’t be foolish enough to think that they can consistently outsmart the market.”
Bogle became a harsh critic in his later years of the mutual fund industry and the high fees charged to investors for stock-picking expertise.
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4. Don’t get emotional
Invest in a diverse selection of stocks and bonds, trust in the arithmetic and stick to it — this was the essence of Bogle’s advice for Vanguard investors. “Impulse is your enemy,” was one of the mantras.
“Eliminate emotion from your investment program. Have rational expectations for future returns and avoid changing those expectations in response to the ephemeral noise coming from Wall Street.”
5. Own the entire stock market
Bogle was the leading proponent of structuring an investment portfolio to mirror the performance of a market yardstick, like the Standard & Poor’s 500 stock index.
“The S&P 500 is a great proxy,” Bogle told The Wall Street Journal last year, adding that he hadn’t bought an individual stock in about 25 years.
Bogle also told CNBC that the U.S. market was a safer bet than other markets. “U.S. companies are innovative and entrepreneurial,” he said.